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NFTRC commissions UHT plant

Staff Writer
The Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Oreeditse Molebatsi on Tuesday commissioned the National Food Technology Research Centre's (NFTRC) ultra-high temperature (UHT) processing plant in Kanye.

According to NFTRC public relations manager, Thato Kepaletswe, the plant allows for pasteurisation and sterilisation operations typically used in the food industry to extend the shelf life of liquid and semi-liquid food products such as milk, yoghurt, juice, custard, fermented cereal beverages and liquid infant formula. She said the facility will boost the food processing industry , "thus diversifying the economy away from mining, as it will enable NFTRC to develop processes that will introduce convenience of shelf-stable products of indigenous food products such as sour milk for world markets".  Further, she said the facility is one of the most commonly used by academic, research and development institutions as well as commercial companies to develop new food products, "or troubleshoot existing processes". Kepaletswe revealed that NFTRC is assured of technical backup of 'first world' international standard from the supplier."This means that NFTRC has what the world has in terms of hardware," she noted.

NFTRC is to generate food technologies that enhance economic diversification, food security and quality through sustained end user focused research and development. To date, the centre has developed several products using locally available raw materials produced by local farmers and harvested from the wild. Most prototypes of the products await final

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development stages, which include standardisation and commercial viability testing.  According to Kepaletswe, the acquisition of the UHT plant will stimulate innovation, "which could transform our indigenous products from being simple traditional kitchen recipes to commercial products that could be enjoyed by many in all corners of the country and possibly across our borders". She said a countrywide survey of indigenous products has been concluded. She added that those with potential for development into industrial products will be selected. Kepaletswe said the equipment will play a critical role in achieving this objective. 

Further the equipment is envisaged to enable NFTRC to contribute significantly to the achievement of the objectives of the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) by facilitating agro-processing through the provision of new food products and processes in the form of enterprise packages. She said the plant is not to the exclusive use of NFTRC, "but also by tertiary institutions such as the Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) for purposes of human development."

Attachment opportunities are also offered to a good number of students receiving their undergraduate training in food science and technology at BCA and institutions in South Africa and Malaysia. Batswana are also encouraged to take up NFTRC technologies for enterprise development.



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